Steelers’ Mike Tomlin Now the Winningest African-American Head Coach

Mike Tomlin head coach Pittsburgh Steelers

Norm Hall/Getty Images Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers prior to a game against the Arizona Cardinals on December 08, 2019.

On Sunday the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-0) defeated the Baltimore Ravens (5-2), 28-24. In the process, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin won his 140th regular season game, surpassing Hall of Famer Tony Dungy (139-69) for the most victories by an African-American head coach in NFL history. Tomlin now has a career record of 140-74-1, a .653 winning percentage, and is 22nd on the all-time wins list.

After the win, Dungy tweeted a congratulatory message.


Tony Dungy Hired Mike Tomlin in 2001

Notably, it was Dungy who gave Tomlin his first job as an NFL assistant, hiring him onto the Tampa Bay Buccanneers staff as defensive backs coach in 2001. Though Dungy moved on to become head coach of the Indianapolis Colts after that season, Tomlin remained with the Bucs in the same role through 2005. He then served as defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings for one season before getting hired by the Steelers.

Last week Tomlin was asked what he learned from Dungy during the one season they worked together and he said, “We don’t have enough time to chronicle the things I have learned from Coach—in a very short period of time, I might add.”

Tomlin went on to highlight a handful things he took away from the experience, talking about Dungy’s “approach to business, the thoroughness, the clean communication, particularly in difficult times,” he said. “The clarity of thought, the commitment to a style of play and a plan, all things I have held onto over the years and think about often.”

Prior to working for Dungy in Tampa Bay, Tomlin served as a defensive assistant for the University of Cincinnati, the University of Tennessee-Martin and Arkansas State. Before that he spent the 1996 season as a graduate assistant at the University of Memphis. He started his coaching career in 1995 as wide receivers coach at Virginia Military Institute, this after playing wide receiver at William & Mary between 1990 and 1994.


Mike Tomlin’s Steelers Career

Tomlin has led his team to six AFC North titles and eight playoff appearances. He has yet to endure a losing season, finishing at least 8-8 in every year in which he has been head coach. Assuming he leads the Steelers to a non-losing season in 2020, a near certainty this point, he will tie Marty Schottenheimer for the longest streak of non-losing seasons (14) to start a head coaching tenure.

Tomlin was named the head coach of the Steelers on January 22, 2007, at the age of 34 after Bill Cowher chose to retire from coaching with 149 career victories. Tomlin has taken his team to two Super Bowls, beating the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XXLIII after the 2008 season.

Still, many observers—including former Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch—believe Tomlin doesn’t get the respect he deserves. On Monday, Batch reminded JR SportBrief, “He’s never had a losing season. That right there should earn respect, but unfortunately people don’t do that.”

On Sunday the Steelers will attempt to set a new franchise record for best start to a season (8-0) with a win over the Dallas Cowboys.

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